Elwood mural takes on additional meaning after officer killed in line of duty
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - If you’re ever in Elwood, you certainly won’t miss the mural on the side of Joyner’s Restaurant. Transformed from a normal diner exterior to an icon for patriotism in America.
The building, now wrapped in the American flag, was painted by pop artist Theodore Winters.
Winters and the restaurant owner worked together to have the artist paint the flag as a way to not only bring people to the business, but to reignite patriotism and support for first responders, something Winters says has been lacking as of recently.
Winters says as he worked throughout the day on the mural, first responders would drive by, honk, flash their lights to show their appreciation, and one of those people was officer Shahnavaz.
He says Shahnavaz simply wanted to say thanks for bringing that message of support to life, and winters returned the gratitude not knowing it would be the last time he would speak with him.
Winters recounted the conversation, saying “I walked up to the window and I told him, you know I want you to know that every single time you drive by this, people my age and people in the community care about you guys, and we care about what you do and I said thank you for being a police officer. Just thank you for being a police officer. He basically just looked back at me and said thank you, you know that really means a lot to me and I absolutely love being a cop, and you know, he drove away.
“We finished the mural and I came home, and you know I’m just relaxing, kicked off my shoes and I’m watching the news and it’s officer Shahnavaz. They showed his photo and I froze. I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up just calling my client and we ended up talking for a while that night, you know, about how he was a young guy who’s just so full of life and just a respectable young man.”
People have reached out to Winters from across the country, thanking him for his support. Now, the mural will stand as a memorial for Shahnavaz who paid the ultimate price for his community, with an official dedication ceremony taking place on August 21st.
“I think that at the end of the day and the conversation that I had with him when we were talking about the polarization of being a police officer as a profession and he was saying that he just wanted it to change. He wanted people to see that police officers are good people that just work hard and are out their in the community and want to get home safe. I think he would absolutely love that out of this bad situation and that out of this tragedy that so many of us can come together,” Winter said.
The dedication and memorial event will take place at Joyner’s Restaurant, 1537 S A Street, Elwood, IN 46036 on August 21st at 3pm
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